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Neurochem Res. 2012 Jun;37(6):1170-84. doi: 10.1007/s11064-012-0734-0. Epub 2012 Mar 11.

The hypothesis on function of glycosphingolipids and ABO blood groups revisited.

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Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine, Warsaw, Poland.


Twenty-five years ago the author proposed new ideas of glycoprotein (GPs) and glycosphingolipid (GSLs) functions at the cell membrane. The GPs, apart from their glycan carrying capacity, were assumed to have specific, protein associated, functions. In contrast, GSLs such as those of globo and neolacto/lacto series, were considered to be energetically cheap membrane packing substances, filling in membrane spaces not covered with functional GPs. The terminal carbohydrate structures of the neolacto/lacto GSLs, i.e., sialic acid residues and ABH glycotopes, were postulated to have either regulatory or protective functions, respectively. A special active role was ascribed to terminal β-galactosyl residues of GSLs and GPs. Gangliosides were considered to be functional GSLs. In the present review the author discusses these old ideas in context of the contemporary knowledge and comes to the conclusion that they have not aged.

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